Manhattan’s lone Serbian restaurant is a perpetual dinner party and you’ll all invited
One of the recent Newsweek issues published a list of 101 best places to eat all over the planet, compiled by a number of famous chefs. Among the restaurants that an ordinary mortal can never afford to eat at, appears Kafana, Manhattan’s lone Serbian restaurant.
Kafana opened in 2008, on Avenue C and 7th street and quickly became one of the East Village’s favorite spots. It’s a place that is simple and authentic both in food and atmosphere. Even more, Kafana feels very homey and as we find, this is not a coincidence. The owner and creator of Kafana, Vladimir Ocokoljic-Coja, used both his profession and family heritage to create a perpetual dinner party where everyone is invited.
Trained in interior design, Coja spent most of his time in New York in the 90’s designing buildings and interiors for other people’s bars and restaurants. Whereas he still pursues his architectural, as well as academic career (he teaches at the Fashion Institute of Technology), opening his own restaurant became his primary vision.
To truly channel a good, old bohemian bistro vibe, such as the ones plentiful at the time of his grandparents, Coja brought a number of furniture pieces straight from his family house, including his grandparents’ glass chandelier. His father, an architect, came to dirty his hands in a bonding experience with his son and helped with construction work.
Kafana’s interior keeps the exposed brick, a classic Manhattan feature, while adding dozens of authentic Ocokoljic family photos and vintage postcards from Belgrade.
“I don’t know if Kafana is an exact representation of Belgrade at the turn of the 20th century, but this is my Belgrade. It’s based on my family’s collective memories,” Coja comments. “Recipes for pies and salads came from my aunt, my mom and grandma, while the open grill recipes are traditional, straight from the Serbian national cook book published in 1930s”.
Kafana has become a neighborhood fixture. The atmosphere attracts not only foodies interested in trying out new ethnic specialties, but New Yorkers of all types. Do not expect to enter this place and hear Serbian every day of the week. However, do expect to exit with another friend or two in your phonebook. It is a truly cosmopolitan restaurant. By catering to a broader audience, Kafana proudly represents the best of the Serbian dining experience – hospitable, warm and gregarian.
*more info: kafananyc.com